On July 29,  Honda applied for a new trademark for CR-Z in the United States. Motor Trend first discovered the filing. Usually, we'd assume this is the common move by automakers to protect their model names, even ones no longer in production. However, some deeper digging suggests this is something a little different.

Honda's previous trademark for CR-Z in the US expired on June 30, 2017. This means the company waited over three years to file new paperwork to protect the model name. While there's sometimes a lag between the paperwork expiring and sending in the new application, this extended period is longer than normal.

Gallery: Honda CR-Z soldiers on for 2016MY with subtle cosmetic revisions and new range-topping trim

Making this situation even weirder, searches of other international trademark databases don't show Honda applying for CR-Z outside of the US  – at least not yet.

The odd situation raises questions about what Honda might be planning for the CR-Z name, and the trademark process takes months. At this point, the United States Patent and Trademark Office hasn't even started checking the paperwork to grant the application.

The original CR-Z debuted at the 2010 North American International Auto Show and went on sale that year. At launch, power came from a 1.5-liter four-cylinder with hybrid assistance that produced 122 horsepower (91 kilowatts) and 128 pound-feet (174 Newton-meters) of torque. For the 2013 model year, a more powerful electric motor pushed the output to 130 hp (97 kilowatts) and 140 lb-ft (190 Nm). 

Early on, the model drew comparisons to the 1980s Honda CRX. There were some similarities in spirit to the efficiency-focused HF model of the CRX, but the CR-Z didn't have the sporty fun of the earlier model in Si trim.

Honda is currently simplifying its lineup in the US by eliminating the Fit, Civic Coupe, and manual-gearbox-equipped Accord for the 2021 model year. Judging by this trademark filing, maybe the company sees a new CR-Z as a way to bring something new and fun to the range.

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